Connaught Motorcars' Once and Future Hybrid
By EV World
What happens when you get a bunch of ex-Jaguar, ex-Rover, ex-Aston Martin engineers and executives together to develop a new, low CO2-footprint motor vehicle?
TheConnaught Motor Company's Type D is the result. It's a sleek, four-passenger sport coupe that will begin limited production in Wales later this year. But while there's no doubt this V-10 powered car is exciting to look at, it's beauty is more than skin deep because waiting just over the production horizon is a hybrid version that shows promise of extending its low-CO2 emissions performance into far more pedestrian vehicles.
Tony Martindale, the CEO for both Connaught (pronounced like kon-knot) Engineering and Connaught Motors, sat down with EV World during the recent Alternative Fuel Vehicles conference + expo in Anaheim, California to talk about his company and its technology.
Intended for a small, but growing niche of performance sport coupes (3% annually, according to Martindale), the Type D is, by his description, "designed to be best-in-class performance and economy balance."
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The program began in 2002 with the goal of designing "something sexy, something quick" that would get 42 mpg (5.6L/100km). The engineers came back to him and said, "You need to do a V-10 hybrid", which Martindale admitted sounded quite mad at the time.
"In retrospect, when you look at the reasons for going down a V-10 hybrid route in a sports coupe, you get a lot of good engineering reasons for it."
Martindale explained that the V-10 will enable the car to smoothly add cylinders as the car begins to roll from a stop on its electric drive, which is powered by not batteries, but ultracapacitors. The next generation of the hybrid version will feature cylinder bank deactivation. It will be able to cruise on just 5 cylinders giving it a 120 g/km carbon dioxide emission rating by the British VAC. Its 48-volt Lynch motor-based electric drive provides both auto start/stop to save fuel and cut emissions as well as assists in acceleration, which the company calculates is sub-7 seconds 0-to-60. The inaugural edition of the GT model weights less than 2000 pounds giving it a high power-to-weight ratio.
Production will be in Wales, where one-third of the workforce is engaged in some part of the automotive industry supply chain. Connaught's 10-cyclinder engine block also happens to be cast there. The company is working closely with Cardiff University and has set up, in collaboration with Alias Autodesk for doing point of sale and design work.
"It gives us a great knowledge base for rollout," Martindale explained, adding that the entire vehicle is a 'from the ground-up" in-house design, though Connaught makes as much use of off-the-shelf components as possible.
The GT model will retail at £55,000 ($109,000US). The hybrid version will have a much wider range of packaging options, so Martindale estimates it will cost, depending on how its configured, between £45-70,000 ($90,000-140,000US).
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